Best Buys review: ATI Radeon 9700Pro-based graphics cards

ATI Radeon 9700Pro-based cards

Sapphire Radeon 9700 Atlantis Pro Ultimate Edition

Description: If you're looking for great performance and the latest Direct X 9.0 support for upcoming games, but also want a very quiet card, then this one is definitely worth considering. It's very quiet - in fact it is silent - due to the fact that it has no cooling fans. Instead, the main graphics chip is cooled by a heat pipe structure that disperses any heat over two huge heatsinks situated on the front and back of the card. Each individual memory chip also has a small heatsink attached to it. This makes the card quite bulky and heavy.

The mounting bracket has connectivity for a standard VGA port in addition to a DVI port and a video port is also present for connection to a TV or video device.

128MB 256-bit DDR SDRAM is available onboard, providing up to 24GB of memory bandwidth. This memory gives the card the ability to display its wares on a huge monitor at resolutions up to 2048x1536x32-bit colour depth at 60Hz.

When installing the card, a supplemental power cord (provided) must be attached to the card.

Contents: The cabling required to get your card functioning at capacityl is provided and includes; a DVI to VGA adapter, S-Video and RCA cables (which can be connected via the supplied Y-cable).

Cyberlink's PowerDVD (for watching DVDs) is included, but no games software is bundled.

Driver features: ATI's Catalyst drivers can be used to tweak Open GL and Direct3D settings such as antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. The card also ships with a utility called Redline, that also allows the API settings (Open GL and Direct3D) to be configured for optimum performance with built-in profiles for popular games and applications. Overclocking of the main chip and the memory can be accomplished using this software, although this utility best reserved for experienced users.

Performance: While the cooling system does not employ a fan to disperse any heat generated, this card experienced no stability problems in testing, and produced better results than the GeForceFX 5800 Ultra-based Asus card in almost every test. It was slightly hotter than the GeForceFX-based cards and the Radeon 9800Pro-based card, crept up to 51 degrees during testing.

Target user: This card is ideal for a user who requires a quiet graphics card that can handle future Direct X 9.0 games, as well as providing excellent performance performance and image quality.

Vendor: Sapphire
Distributor: Achieva Technology Australia
Phone: (02) 9742 3288
Price: $729

Test system
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Motherboard: Asus A7N8X
AGP mode: 8X
Memory: 2x 256MB Corsair PC3200 modules (in a dual channel configuration)
Hard drive: 120GB Western Digital Caviar WD 1200 Special Edition with 8MB cache
Hard drive interface: Parallel ATA

To view the complete list of our graphics cards reviews, check out the PC World test results table.

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